There’s knowing something and then there’s knowing something. That’s what the practice is all about. Making common sense, common practice. While we might know logically that it takes time and dedication to develop our skills, our craft, ourselves, we get a bit impatient when we don’t do something right, right away (I know I do). But I always come back to center to remind myself what it really looks like and remind myself how far I actually have come.
Here is where I share some of my best, daily practices for GROWING and developing my skills. These all add up to the deep inner understanding that whatever I’m not good at TODAY, I can deliberately find out how to get good at TOMORROW. They create a sense of inner resourcefulness and true worthiness. If you have the same thinking that I used to, I urge you to shirk off your “I’m special” mentality, roll up your sleeves and do the work it takes to become truly great. Let’s go!
If you’ve read my blog posts or talked with me personally, you know that a big part of my journey over the past three years has been about overcoming limiting thoughts, a fragile sense of belonging and a belief that other people get to define me. These are crippling ideas that many others deal with, and it gives me great motivation and purpose to help others out of this same morass into a space of unlimited belief in themselves, believing deeply in their inherent and unshakable worthiness and understanding their voice matters.
But where does all this fear come from in the first place? If you picked up a copy of Mindset by Carol Dweck (as recommended last post), then you have some idea. I was, like most people in the so called “fixed mindset” that she describes. I felt my qualities were “fixed” and set in stone. A limited amount of talent, intelligence, personality, moral character. Which creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over (and over and over). I had this lingering sensation that what I was born with was not “enough”, and I better do a DAMN good job of perfecting and pleasing to cover this up.
So what’s wrong with that? I mean, I got shit done, achieved success, produced results. Why is this so bad?
A) Because achieving stuff only made me feel more shitty because I couldn’t ever enjoy it — eroding my motivation.
B) Because if ever I found that I was not naturally talented at something — that it didn’t come to me easily. I would quit.
AP Calculus? Outta here.
Chemistry? See ya!
Drawing, Painting, Pottery? Nah, son.
So what’s the antidote? How do you “fix” it?
Well, there’s really no quick fix, but there is a deliberate process and it comes from understanding and practicing SKILLS. Skills can be developed, and you get better at it over time. In fact, only time gets you through skill development. There are no “talent based”, “I’m so special this comes easy to me” type shortcuts. (Yeah, I know. It sucks, but the faster you get over it the better.)
When you boil all that down, I’m really just talking about becoming mentally tough. Having worked in entertainment for 20 years, where identity and status are used as yardsticks for your personal worthiness, deliberately developing an unstoppable inner game is really not an option, lest you suffer deeply as you go up and down with the tide. Other occupations do this same damage. But what is this elusive mentally tough headspace? And what does it look like?
1. Change your Mind.
Carol calls in the “Growth Mindset”, which is the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate and develop through your efforts. Don’t have a natural born “gift” for business, time management, speaking, etc.? That’s cool. If you take the time, you’ll discover that all these skills have various components which can be broken down and improved. Bit by bit.
2. Embrace failing (because it doesn’t mean that YOU are a failure).
This is a biggie, because I used to be highly motivated by the fear of failure. And when I did fail, it wasn’t that I had failed, I told myself that I was in fact, a failure. It was an unveiling of my flaws and faults for public scorn and personal humiliation.
When the shift occurs however, failure becomes an incredibly useful stop on the self improvement train. When all the fear based thoughts clear out, you can see and identify where you fell down, and figure out how you can get better. Its what helps you turn your weaknesses into strengths. (note that this can’t happen when you fail to acknowledge your weaknesses in the first damn place.)
How do you motivate from the mental toughness standpoint? It’s not fear that worries you, it’s the worry that you will die with all your potential bottled up in you. You are constantly pulled towards the desire for MORE from yourself. You are at peace with where you are, but joyfully work towards constant and never ending improvement.
3. Value Process over Results.
If you’re doing #1 and #2, you start to get to the real joy for me. The fact that you can now enjoy the freaking PROCESS of becoming something. Once you let go the expectation of being good immediately because you are “blessed and highly favored” (which you are, but still human), then you can actually enjoy learning from scratch and PRACTICING something until you get it right. You don’t have to quit, you just keep calm and carry on practicing. (exhale here)
The real benefit of all of this is that you now start developing the will, determination and discipline that the task needs. You don’t have to wait to be struck by lightening. Once you start loving the everyday steps, measuring, adapting, changing, you can just enjoy the steady climb up the mountain.
Some of the things that I’ve allowed myself to get better at with this practice?
What could you do/learn or become with a new mindset?
Headspace – Been meaning to get perfect at meditation but doing nothing at all? Here’s a great, 10 minute at a time app to get you practicing mindfulness. And really who doesn’t want more headspace, right? First 10 days are 100% free!
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell – Want even more proof that success doesn’t come out of no where? Gladwell’s insightful book at the anatomy of success looks at the similarities of what it takes to be an overnight success (hint: it starts with a “P”)
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